Glider landouts Shobdon Virgin and that first landout.

Writen by Nigel Perren

This article first appeared in the London Gliding club Newsletter.

I am sure that you have all heard those funny and not so funny landout stories; I've always looked on them as something that happens to other pilots, not to me, until 18th March 2005 that is.

So here it is, my first landout. I keep telling myself it's nothing to be ashamed of…

Saturday 12th. The road to Shobdon. Follow Len Cross towing K21 and Lloyd Duhaney towing K23; rather cautious as it's the first time I've ever towed anything, let alone a glider trailer. Arrive in one piece. Get check flight in KEJ with Len. Promptly loose sight of airfield, not a good omen. Steve Lynn has a good wave flight to 10,500ft

Sunday 13th. Get to fly for the first time in the Duo with Errol Drew, very nice indeed (the Duo is pretty cool too). Get better look at the unfamiliar landscape.

Monday 14th. Another check flight with Len who lets me loose to fly 980 for a local 35 min flight. Parachute strap gets caught in U/C lever slot on base leg. Frantic activity in cockpit, another bad omen. Landing at Shobdon can be unnerving. While combating rotor, I had a micolight on my left wingtip and three aircraft with pros turning waiting to cross my landing strip which is only just wider than my wingspan. I decide to land a bit long. Damn Mr Lynn's 3hr flight!

Tuesday 15th Washout.

Wednesday 16th. Washout Lloyd and I go hay on Wye and become tourists for the day.

Thursday 17th. Full cloud cover and 20knts. Lloyd, Adam Derby and I go to inspect Talgarth. It was still there. While we are away some flying is done, Len lands out and has a aerotow back, leaving his P2 in the field.
Are you sure it was his fault Len? Paul Shrosbree lands heavily; thankfully the glider ends up more broken than him. More bad omens?

Friday 18th. All those bad omens are making my nervous. Watch several people take off and disappear. Become impatient to join them. Finally it's my turn. Aha, good lift at 2,400ft, and release. Oh Shit, I think I needed another 1,100ft! Manage to skirt around some hills in zero lift then decide to make a dash for the airfield. O no, more sink than B and Q!

I head for a cluster of farm and industrial buildings hoping for a weak thermal, on anything at all. I circle a few times, but in vain. I can see no landable ground towards the airfield, only 3 miles away.

At 1,000ft I have already picked a field very close to the farmhouse. It is into wind, looks to have reasonable access (not a priority though), no observable obstructions. It has a new short crop with trammel lines also into wind, no trees up or down wind (no rotor). The ground looks a bid dark on the left side, maybe indicating wet ground and poor drainage or, as it turned out, sloping ground, anyway it is plenty big enough so I can keep away from this area. My only real concern is that I have drifted away to the bottom left corner of the field and my "thermal" turns are clockwise which forces me to make two opposing tight turns to get on finals. I am lower than I want to be to make this manoeuvre so to be safe I add another 5kns to my landing speed and monitor it closely.

Touchdown is OK but the ground is softer and rougher than I expected as it has a hump in the middle that I have not seen, it is also slightly downhill. This causes the glider to bounce a foot or two, so away with most of the air-brakes to controlle it. It is all don "as matter of fact" so I can't tell you about any abject terror and buckets of sweat sloping around on the cockpit floor. Sorry

After the dust has settled, I have a good look around the glider for any damage - none found - and phoned the airfield to let them know I am down but OK. Now what? Go find the farmer and apologise for any inconvenience that I have caused him. Now I am nervous! I make my way to the farhouse 200 yardss away, find the front door and knock. An elderly lady 42 years my sinior comes to the door with a dog almost aas old as she is. I apologise for the intrusion and explain that I have landed my aeroplane in her field. "Oh, how wonderfull! Let's go and have a look. Cup of tea?" Well tat wasn't so bad."

Soon len comes to pick me up. Some willing hands go back with me to retrieve the glider. First we have to push it uphill to a gate that was hard work and probably contributed to my back problems a week later. We manage to dismantle it and manhandle it across a shallow ditch and into the trailer. I think I still owe at least a few drinks for the retrieve.

Back at the airfeld the very nice chap Errol Drew feels some pity for me in not yet having had a proper wave flight and offers an other flight in the Duo. It is most gratefully accepted and we have a good flight rounding off the week nicely.

So, have glider, will land out…. Sometimes. It's nothing to be ashamed of, Probably.

Nigel Perren

This article first appeared in the London Gliding club Newsletter.


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